SWEPCO looks to add 999 megawatts of renewable energy capacity

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 359 views 

Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO), a utility of Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power, is seeking regulatory approval for three renewable energy projects comprising 999 megawatts of generating capacity, according to a Tuesday (May 31) news release.

Last year, SWEPCO sought proposals for up to 3,000 megawatts of wind resources and up to 300 megawatts of solar resources.

On May 27, SWEPCO submitted filings to regulators in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas, and seeks approval of the three projects.

The projects include a 598.4-megawatt wind farm in Garfield, Kingfisher, Logan, Payne and Noble counties in Oklahoma, a 200.6-megawatt wind farm in Baylor County, Texas, and a 200-megawatt solar array in Caddo Parish, La. Invenergy will build the projects, and SWEPCO will acquire them.

“SWEPCO’s analysis of our generation needs showed that the lowest cost, best value option for capacity was adding wind and solar resources,” said Malcolm Smoak, SWEPCO president and chief operating officer. “These projects will help save money for our customers.”

SWEPCO will need to replace generating capacity that has been or will be retired, including five gas units and two coal-fired plants. The utility is projecting a generating capacity shortfall in 2023 that is expected to rise to 1,574 megawatts in 2028 after other plants retirements. According to the release, SWEPCO will evaluate or seek additional proposals for opportunities to add renewable generating capacity in the coming years.

“We have worked to balance the remaining life and economic viability of each of our generating units with other options for generating power, including natural gas as well as renewables, in a resource mix that provides the best value and generates benefits for the environment,” Smoak said.

Long-term, more than one-third of the utility’s electricity demand within the Southwest Power Pool footprint is expected to be met with wind and solar resources.

Also, SWEPCO is seeking approval of short-term capacity-only agreements from natural gas plants operated by Oneta and JPower for additional capacity between 2023 and 2026.

In February, SWEPCO announced plans to add 72.5 megawatts of solar energy through a purchased power agreement with the proposed Rocking R Solar project in northwest Louisiana. The utility recently completed the North Central Energy Facilities in Oklahoma that generates 1,484 megawatts of wind energy.

SWEPCO serves more than 543,000 customers in three states, including Arkansas.